A business case for mastery.
Everyone has heard the expression “jack of all trades, master of none.” But there’s a second part to this famous 16th-century quote most haven’t heard. Here’s the full expression:
“A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”
Referring to someone as a “jack of all trades and master of none” isn’t necessarily an insult, more often it’s a suggestion that a person has no real expertise. But the original saying is more complimentary. It refers to those with a more varied skillset as being more valuable in some situations than those who master a single focus..
Many career paths are better suited to the “jack of all trades.” For example, Virtual Assistants who balance a variety of tasks at once and adapt quickly as the situation changes. Or teachers who apply administrative, classroom management, and emotional intelligence skills, along with mastery of their subject matter.
However, note the words oftentimes as opposed to “always” in the quote above. In many situations, there is simply no substitute for true, focused mastery.
Mastery stands out.
Masters make their mark in virtually every field:
- Danielle Steel rarely writes anything other than romance novels, and she’s sold over 800 million copies of them.
- Amaury Guichon is a pastry chef whose obsession with chocolate sculpting made him a viral internet sensation and landed him his own Netflix show at 30 years old.
- Undoubtedly, the best athletes could perform well in just about any athletic activity—some experts even believe James could have had an equally successful career in the NFL—but they have become legends by focusing on their sport of choice.
This same principle applies to software development mastery. There’s always a need for the jack-of-all-trades developers who happily take on just about any project. And many of these companies do great work. Some might argue that it’s less risky to say yes to a variety of opportunities.
But the truly great software developers—the ones that change the face of the industry—are the masters of their craft. They are the thought leaders, the experts, and the headline makers who don’t get distracted by shiny, new moneymakers—they stay the course.
Two paths to software development mastery
One path to mastering software development is focusing on a particular platform or technology. For example, a developer who focuses on mastering a platform like Filemaker can become the go-to resource for those solutions.
There are advantages to learning the platform’s ins and outs and optimizing its features to create effective solutions. This can lead to higher quality work, faster delivery times, and a reputation as a go-to expert for that particular platform.
Another path to software development mastery is to develop expertise with a specific solution type, like healthcare field record management. In this case, the developer may or may not use a specific platform such as Filemaker. Their advantage is the deep understanding of the industry and the specific problems that need to be solved and the ability to create custom solutions from scratch.
Both paths can lead to software development mastery, but each requires a different approach.
Your path should be based on market demand, long-term prospects, and your strengths and interests. Consider what kind of company you need to become to serve your ideal customers.
How to leverage mastery to grow your business.
Of course, the first step to mastery is to draw on a body of masterful work. That means years of under-the-radar work before anyone knows who you are. You don’t get to claim the title until you’re the best. But once you’ve done the work, you can position yourself or your company as a leader.
Some may discover you by chance, but if you want to rise above the competition, you must market your wares.
Think about ways you can showcase your expertise. How can you get your company in front of the right people and show them what you can do?
Here are a few ideas:
- Submit papers and articles to magazines and publications.
- Give presentations and join panels at conferences.
- Lead free webinars.
Remember, basic marketing isn’t enough to establish yourself as a thought leader. You need to be delivering value based on what you’ve mastered. Pay attention to where your target customers are and who they’re listening to. Find a way to insert yourself into that space and be present. Seek to understand what’s on their mind, what worries them, and what they dream about. You can use that knowledge to craft a message—and a product—that speaks to them directly.
At Harmonic, we’re not content to do decent work. We choose mastery, so if you’re weary of mediocre software and ready to invest in something exceptional, let’s talk.